With the celebration of Valentine’s Day this week, I found myself thinking about what and who I value. The concept of values clarification came into the education world in the 1970’s. However, my introduction to clarifying values happened the 20 years before that.

Growing up in an Italian family, values were linked to emotions. In my Italian family emotions weren’t just felt, they were expressed. It became obvious that that emotions and feelings we expressed revealed what we valued. No matter the emotion, it revealed what we held as important.


The emotions we have are like the tip of the iceberg revealing in what is unseen the values we cherish.

Let’s consider some examples:

  • Joy or happiness reveal that we have or are experiencing what we value.
  • Fear or worry reveal a possible threat to what we value.
  • Anger or mad reveal that what we value has been taken.
  • Hope reveals that what we value might occur.
  • Jealousy reveals that someone else has what we value.
  • Sadness or grief reveals that we no longer have what or who we value.
  • Gratitude reveals that we appreciate having something we value.
  • Disappointment reveals that we didn’t attain or experience what we value.
  • Courage reveals that we will overcome fear to attain or maintain what we value.
  • Regret reveals that we didn’t do what it takes to get what we value.
  • Stress from conflict reveals that what we value contrasts with what someone else values.
  • Love reveals that we care for whatever or whomever we value.
  • Determination, dedication, and commitment reveal that we will do whatever it takes to get what we value.
  • Excitement reveals that we are about to experience or attain what we value.
  • Boredom reveals that we are not now experiencing what we value.

The power of emotions revealing value was made evident to me by my Italian grandfather.

My own sense of worth was communicated to me when I would visit him on my trips home from college. The emotion he expressed by the tears that filled his eyes said what was important to him, “My boy is home.” Likewise, my own tears of grief upon hearing of his death some years later revealed how important he was to me.

As you go through this week, notice whatever emotions you experience and recognize the values you hold that are connected to those feelings. Being aware of what we deem important enriches our days.

From our Top 20 team…Kevin Brennan, Willow Sweeney, and Tom Cody…who value the wellness of those we serve.

Paul Bernabei, Director
Top 20 Training